When Elle Casazza takes the stage, she takes the room, as well—a fact that any Chicagoan who has seen the “fearless, sultry and powerful” artist perform live will likely attest to.
“I’ve always known I wanted to perform,” said Casazza, who, in addition to being a vocalist, plays guitar, piano and ukulele (an instrument that she plays “just for fun”).
Although a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., Casazza’s musical home is in Chicago. After studying jazz and contemporary vocals at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Casazza was ready to turn her combined musical passions into a career: “I really enjoyed singing jazz, and I really liked pop music, and it had never occurred to me that that is something that I could make a career out of,” she said. “It just never occurred to me that that was an option.” Yet, in the years following graduation, that is exactly what she did. One EP (“For Your Pleasure,” 2013) and six singles (including her newest, “Soft & Low,” 2015) later, Casazza is currently preparing her first full-length album for release.
Influenced by timeless female talents such as Amy Winehouse, Billie Holiday, KT Tunstall, Joni Mitchell and Ella Fitzgerald, Casazza’s music combines the genres of pop, rock, blues, soul and jazz. Her new album, “Proof,” anticipated for release this fall, expands the boundaries of Casazza’s style and taste even further. To the vocals, keys, guitar, bass and drums of Casazza’s band, “Proof” adds horns and strings, as well as the diverse sounds of Motown, surf rock, R&B, funk and high-energy 80’s music. The album also features a couple of love songs, which Casazza enjoys performing next to her boyfriend, Julian Chin, who plays keys. Casazza said that “Proof” is unlike anything she’s created before.
Each of the nine tracks on the all-original, detail-oriented studio album has its own unique style that matches an aspect of Casazza’s personality. Her aim in writing lyrics is to be honest and authentic with herself, to “let the feelings out.” In discussing her approach to songwriting, Casazza remembered times when “what I wanted to do was yell and scream and kick and shout, so I wrote a song.”
The creation of “Proof” is being documented in Casazza’s blog, “The Unapologetic Journey.” Casazza hopes that the album will empower her listeners to unapologetically be who they are, just as it has for her. “It’s such a competitive performing field—it’s hard to feel like you’re good enough,” said Casazza. “So, to me, this is also proof, like, ‘Yes, you are worthy, this is good enough, this is meant to be released.’ It’s proof for me, and it’s proof for the world.”
Credit: Katlyne Heath/ChicagoMusic.org
"Singletrack" is CAR's Artist Story for Chicago performers in which songwriters, bands, playwrights, actors and writers discuss the creation of a recorded work alongside audio or video clips of the performance.